The Neurotic Procrastinator Assassination

19 May

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I am currently reading The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, and it is mentally and emotionally kicking my butt. In just the first few pages, I’ve been mentally gut punched by having to face my own emotional issues in a way I haven’t in a long while. The first zinger for me was about procrastination. I have been a master procrastinator for as long as I can remember. In grade school, I would get an F every time I had a long term project because that was back in the day when you were given the assignment and were expected to do it. I had no idea at that time about ADHD. I had no idea about time management, and I certainly had no idea about breaking work down into manageable chunks, so I failed, over and over again. It was humiliating because I would get A’s on homework, quizzes and tests, but I could not manage the long term project. I also had difficulty with organization. My room was a wreck and the thought of cleaning it up always seemed overwhelming. I didn’t ask for help because I knew my mom would tell me to just clean it up, but I didn’t understand what that truly meant. My car was a mess from the time I got one. The thought of my dorm rooms make me sad for those who had to share with me, and if any of them would ever read this; Terri, Mimi and Johannah, I apologize for what you had to endure while living with me. At the time, I didn’t know any better, and I thank you for putting up with my mess with little to no complaining. It wasn’t until my third child was born that I finally began getting a handle on how to run a household. I truly didn’t know how to organize my time, my possessions or even my thoughts to make our house truly a home, but I found the resources and our home began to be a place I loved to be rather than a mess I could hardly wait to get away from. I’ve been at a plateau, albeit a good plateau for a long time. I’ve gotten to a place where my home looks good. I love my life, most days, and we’re doing well, but I know there’s another level. I know my health could be better. I know I could declutter so much more from my home. I know we could up the progress on our finances but knowing and doing are two different things. What I’m doing is getting tons of things done in the morning and thinking that’s enough. I’m maintaining but not gaining and while that is a good thing, it feels like great is out there, taunting me. I didn’t know why I couldn’t make myself do more until I read something in this book. Essentially, the idea is that if you value yourself, you value your time. I’ve heard something similar in the past but it never stuck with me before. This time it has.

I had an epiphany about the wasted afternoons and evenings in my life. I place a high value on my morning time because that is when I tend to have the most energy. I am truly one of those annoying people who is happy and cheerful in the morning. I know that is rare and I do my best to keep my cheerfulness on low for some of my family members’ sake. I usually get more accomplished from 6:30 am and 10am than I can accomplish the entire rest of the day. It has always baffled me how that happens but with the help of this book, I’m beginning to face things I’ve never faced before and I can already see a shift and it all has to do with responsibility. This book says there are two tendencies regarding responsibility and we all lean toward either neurosis or character disorder. Neurotics assume too much responsibility and those with character disorder don’t assume enough. That’s not to say that we all have some kind of mental disorder. It’s just saying that when it comes to responsibility people tend to think either everything is their fault or everything is someone else’s fault. I happen to fall into the first category. I always think things would be better if I could just be better. My house would be cleaner if I spent more time cleaning. I must not be a good enough house manager or my home would look like a magazine. My finances would be better if I could just manage them better because there are people out there who seem to be doing so much better than us with less money coming in. My body would be in better shape if I could just be more consistent in my eating and work out patterns. No matter what my genetics, body type or life circumstances, I should be able to overcome them by sheer will and determination. People on the character disorder side of the equation tend to deny their own responsibility for their life circumstances and place the blame elsewhere. As a stay at home mom, they blame their children for their house being messy and cluttered. In the financial realm, they just know they would be better off if their spouse didn’t spend so much money or their kids didn’t cost so much to raise. They would be in better health if their family would pitch in and help so they could have time to go to the gym. Does any of this sound familiar? It certainly did to me, and the most amazing thing is that both tendencies make us feel like powerless victims, but there is a cure and it is called awareness.

When you become aware of your tendencies and your own value, you begin to live differently. Even though I know my self-worth has nothing to do with how much housework I get done or how many projects I accomplish, I know I feel better when I am active. If I spend an afternoon and an evening doing nothing but watching reruns on TV, I feel like I’ve wasted the day. I feel like I’ve wasted a part of my life I can’t get back, and it makes me angry with myself. Some people do the same with video games, online games, reading or crafting. They use it as an escape from life rather than a part of it. They use it to ignore the many things they think they “should” be doing, and I put that should in quotation marks because only you can choose what you do, even if it is at the prompting of someone else. That is an aspect that most people fail to understand. In most of our life circumstances, we have so much choice. We have so much power, and we choose to give that power away usually through blame, criticism and internal dramas. What if we just quit complaining and faced our circumstances? What if we decided to live the way our internal senses tell us we should live? Do we think our spouse will be angry with us? Do we think our parents wouldn’t approve? Do we think others would have to change for that to happen? Does any of that matter? When you first suggest to someone that everything circumstance in their life is something they chose, most people get angry because they say they wouldn’t have chosen their circumstance, which may technically be correct but when they use it as an excuse to live a less than life, is it the circumstance or is it the readily available excuse that rules?

I’ll give you a few examples from my life. I realized at age 40 that I had ADHD, about the time my son was diagnosed. It explained a lot about my life, but because I didn’t want my son to use it as an excuse, I chose not to either. I began looking for all of the holistic ways to deal with ADHD because my body generally does not respond well to pharmaceuticals. I have found several ways to help and even when it gets the best of me one day, I can now keep things from spiraling for two or three weeks because I know what my tendencies are. I have a son with a medical condition that prohibits him from taking medication for his ADHD. Because his needs require a large amount of my time and attention, I have chosen not to re-enter the workforce. It requires me to live differently to maintain a positive cash flow in our lives. I could go back to work. I could leave him to fend for himself academically. I choose otherwise. I’ve been able to make the big decisions. What I didn’t realize that I wasn’t applying those principles to my everyday life, so for the past week or so, I’ve been consciously thinking about my time each day. When I choose to sit on the couch to relax, it is a conscious decision rather than an exhausted flop that may have no end that day. This book has helped me realize how much of my life I have been wasting, and the change has been amazing.

My list is as long as it has ever been, but instead of being overwhelming, it is just a list. If I cross ten things off, I move on. If I cross off one or two, I move on knowing I can address it again tomorrow. My time means something to me, not just in the morning but all day. Whether I am cooking, cleaning, watching TV, exercising, sleeping, running errands or playing with my friends on Facebook, every moment is a choice. Every moment can be peaceful or it can be chaos, and sometimes it’s good to have the chaos because it helps you define what you truly want to have in your life and what you are willing to let go. In my family, two of us love golf. Three of us could take it or leave it. Two of us would be out there every day if we could. The other three could find much better ways, in our opinion, to spend a day and our money. If the two who love golf did it every day, without it becoming their profession, our family life would cease to exist. If, however, they never got to golf, it would seriously hamper their quality of life. They choose to golf once per week because it brings them joy. The rest of the family wishes them well. It isn’t a compromise. It is a choice to live in a way that brings harmony to everyone, and it works.

I have a house that I could clean every day and never be finished. I have laundry that I could do every day. I have a body that I want to get in better shape. I have dreams and goals. I have children that still need my attention for them to become well disciplined, happy adults. I have begun to see how precious and valuable my time truly is. I have begun to understand how valuable my contribution is to my home. I won’t say it doesn’t matter what my family thinks because I choose to make that part of my parenting to teach my children to appreciate those who support them in their lives, but what matters more is what I think of me and my life than what others think of me and my life. In the US, this past Sunday was Mother’s Day. I think days like that make us face what I call “the ugly” in our hearts. It’s a time when we see what we think we’re missing, where we haven’t finished grieving, where our perceived short comings are and generally what isn’t right with us. What if we did something different with that pain the next time we feel it? What if we express gratitude for it? What if we look at it for the gift that it can truly be? If we think we’re missing something, make plans to do the things you think you’re missing, or at least make plans to do one thing; just one thing. If we feel grief, be thankful for the love. Celebrate the life. I love that saying that it is better to forget and be happy than to remember and be sad. Do any of us have a loved one who has passed that would say to us to be miserable every holiday? Do we think our loved ones are watching and saying, “Yeah. Boy! I must be the most loved person in the world. Look how miserable and sad my loved ones are. That’s some good stuff!” You know what? I miss my dad sometimes, but he lived in a lot of pain physically and emotionally while he was alive. I choose to believe he is better in every way, and I choose to allow him that joy and not tether him to me in grief. Instead, he is tethered to me in love. He is connected to my boys in love. I free him from all sadness because I wish only joy for both of us and it feels selfish to think otherwise. So, forty four pages into The Road Less Traveled, my life has changed immensely. I can hardly wait to see what the next 250 pages brings. If this keeps up I may hardly be recognizable when it’s all over. If you want to join me on the journey through the book, you can send me a message on Facebook or email me at I thank you for being you and have a great day.


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